RORgt-Expressing Pathogenic CD4+ T Cells Cause Brain Inflammation during Chronic Colitis

Academic Article


  • Neurobehavioral disorders and brain abnormalities have been extensively reported in both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis patients. However, the mechanism causing neuropathological disorders in inflammatory bowel disease patients remains unknown. Studies have linked the Th17 subset of CD4+ T cells to brain diseases associated with neuroinflammation and cognitive impairment, including multiple sclerosis, ischemic brain injury, and Alzheimer’s disease. To better understand how CD4+ T lymphocytes contribute to brain pathology in chronic intestinal inflammation, we investigated the development of brain inflammation in the T cell transfer model of chronic colitis. Our findings demonstrate that CD4+ T cells infiltrate the brain of colitic Rag12/2 mice in proportional levels to colitis severity. Colitic mice developed hypothalamic astrogliosis that correlated with neurobehavioral disorders. Moreover, the brain-infiltrating CD4+ T cells expressed Th17 cell transcription factor retinoic acidrelated orphan receptor gt (RORgt) and displayed a pathogenic Th17 cellular phenotype similar to colonic Th17 cells. Adoptive transfer of RORgt-deficient naive CD4+ T cells failed to cause brain inflammation and neurobehavioral disorders in Rag12/2 recipients, with significantly less brain infiltration of CD4+ T cells. The finding is mirrored in chronic dextran sulfate sodiuminduced colitis in Rorcfl/fl Cd4-Cre mice that showed lower frequency of brain-infiltrating CD4+ T cells and astrogliosis despite onset of significantly more severe colitis compared with wild-type mice. These findings suggest that pathogenic RORgt+CD4+ T cells that aggravate colitis migrate preferentially into the brain, contributing to brain inflammation and neurobehavioral disorders, thereby linking colitis severity to neuroinflammation.
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    Author List

  • Mickael ME; Bhaumik S; Chakraborti A; Umfress AA; van Groen T; Macaluso M; Totenhagen J; Sorace AG; Bibb JA; Standaert DG
  • Start Page

  • 2054
  • End Page

  • 2066
  • Volume

  • 208
  • Issue

  • 8